Role of the Literary Agent
The agent's role is manifold, according to your needs. Light editing, sequentially arranging your material if necessary, marketing the book to publishers, helping you interact with the publisher on matters of the cover, illustrations, blurbs, release, publicity, explore licensing opportunities, checking to make sure the publisher knows how to use that top row of keys when it is check writing time and finally and most important of all, encouraging the promotion of your book.
An agent's job is to determine if your subject has a market s/he can help you reach. The degree of penetration of that market will be based on how good your book is, how good the publisher is, how good the publicity is, how good the distribution is, and how good the public thinks everything combined fits and works for their personal needs.
S/he maintain lists of markets for each category. The ones most familiar with Tale Wins goes at the top of each list. S/he starts at the top of who should be interested in your particular subject, send out five proposals, then five more, and five more, and so forth. Meanwhile, teaser copy for your project is added to the flyer advising any editor interested in fiction,,,, or nonfiction as the case may be,,, that your project is available. This goes out inside packages being mailed for each writer. Thus, if there are ten nonfiction projects altogether, yours will be going out fifty times instead of just five. As any project we handle must be written well enough to impress any editor we send it to, they are more likely to give other ideas from us a look even if they turn the original project down for some reason, More information? Click here.
Don't fall prey to the thought you have only one shot at getting an agency to represent you. Any agency who doesn't charge a reading fee that is willing to accept you as a client is a good indication that your work will be accepted at other agencies as well. Good agents only accept work they believe in. If you ever want to TEST an agency before doing business with them, I suggest you use an assumed name and address to submit material you know is inferior. The spirit in which they reject it will say a whole lot about that agency that you need to know before sending them your best work. Find the one agency that you like which will accept you and has time for your project.
I especially want to caution you against turning down a brand new agency simply because they are just starting out. All of us had to start somewhere and if the truth be known, some of the newer agencies will work a whole lot harder for you than some of us with more experience.
The worst kind of criticism isn't when one agent turns you down. It isn't even when one publisher turns you down. Nor is it when one reviewer rips you apart. The worst kind is when you get published and nobody reads your book.
There are times when the pain of too many rejections runs too deep and we (struggling to be authors) just want a professional evaluation of our writing talents. "Is it me, the market, or the editors I'm sending my work to?" You can E-Me with up to 5 pages of G-rated writing sample or send hard copy to Earl H. Roberts at 414 North 8th Street Street in Mena, Ark. 71953 for a free critique. Be sure to include a stamped envelope for the return of your material.
One question I get more than any other is "What questions should I be asking a literary agent before signing? How do I know when I have found the right literary agent?"
I have seen that question answered by many literary agents. Strangely enough, if you follow their directions to the letter, you will somehow end up wanting to do business with that agency. I'd like to make a departure from that format as I feel the answer is very important to you whether we ever do business or not.
First of all, if you have the world's hottest property and expect an advance over $500,000 then you probably do need an agent with an office in New York City. Those agents there have a slight built-in geographical advantage to the rest of us as they are able to have a string of dinners with different editors each week and can romance and enhance your project beyond recognition. You get these New York agents on the phone and you are likely to hear scintilating conversation something like, "As I was saying to Judith Regan just last week when we were having lunch together,"... They don't seem to believe that phoning Judith behind closed doors is the better part of valor.
If your project carries less heat, any legitimate agent in the U.S. or Canada is probably a good contender for representing you and can be expected to produce results for you not more than a week longer than a New York based agency out there spreading caviar all the time.
Here are the questions I believe you should be asking AFTER any agency you don't recognize the name of expresses an interest in your project:
You can go overboard, I guess.
I ask you the following questions in hope of an expedient reply, and would appreciate any response to all or some of the following questions via e- or analog mail. In the age of query letters, how do you gauge the writing of a book written to touch many in a letter written for an audience of one? What are the main character elements of a literary agent? What are the most commonly used profession-specific words? What are the settings in which the literary agents job is performed? Who, specifically, does the literary agent initially contact at the potential publishing firm? How does a literary agent rationalize their standing in one of the most significant Industrial Fine Arts?
In an industry where the artist labors alone then presents the query, what is the most important standard used when judging the professional writer? Do certain words occur with greater frequency in a successful query letter? Are their certain words or phrases that send up red or black flags in the agents mind? What are the slow and hot periods for agents to present books to the publishers?
|Who are the +-5 agents who made the most money last year in the field? Who are the +-5 agents who had the most books sold last year? Is there a correlation between these numbers? What kind of charities do you and/or your colleagues most strongly support? What are some basic guidelines and/or formulas for judging the value of an unpublished work? What kind of recruiting methods (compared to professional athletes) can a new writer of 5-6 figure advance warranting book be expected to encounter? Are copyright and intellectual property laws up to date, in your opinion? What kind of activities do the writer an agent participate in when they are together in person? What advice would you give to an aspiring Literary Agent? And finally, I request a copy, names deleted, of your personal favorite query letter. http://www.talewins.com/prop.htm|
I ask these questions in order to gain an understanding of the human side of the business that as a professional writer I will need to understand, but from my position seems secluded and confusing. Thank your for your time and any reply you might favor me with.
I am sorry to say I did not have a year to answer the poor boy.
|One thing we all dream of is being admired for having a superior talent. As you are here I suspect your dream is of being admired as a great writer. I wish you luck, and a little more. Since we do work so hard for each of our clients, Tale Wins can't possibly represent every writer that comes our way. So we regularly take a few moments to pass on information, links and help to one and all in an effort to improve the quality of literature offered to publishers for the public. |
Every writer who keeps trying will make it sooner or later. Whether you are a struggling writer, well-published author, or aggressive other agency competitor, please feel free to use all the resources found on the Tale Wins web site. Inside our site we list publishers, agents, tips, and even reveal secrets of creating your own web pages. It only takes a moment to post the new information, so we do it willingly and without reserve.
|Yes, Every writer dreams of having a book published. Of all those who so dream, less than 1% of those trying each year ever reach their goals. For the most part, the publishing field is a tough, harsh world that gambles with fickle readers who buy almost by the herd instinct alone.|
Into this field enters the literary agent. S/He works with selected authors to provide publishers with prime manuscripts and project proposals. Like us they might sink hours of work and hundreds of dollars into each title only to risk condemnation, rejection and rank ingratitude from the author at any point in the proceedings.
What about authors with manuscripts which are not quite ready to be presented to a publisher? Some of these writers which agents are able to help will be offered some free editorial assistance which points out ways of improving the manuscripts. Those writers submitting here who require more help than this will be asked to get professional editing assistance with their manuscript before submitting it to Tale Wins again.
Good luck to you and welcome to all the resource help we hope you find useful. Every writer who keeps trying will make it sooner or later. Even if we must turn down your query or submission this time, please keep trying with other great agents or Sweetheart Editors and remember our welcome mat is out for you here, so keep coming back.
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